FUNNY BONES Caricaturist John Kascht has captured the essence of celebrities such as Barbra Streisand and Eminem, but now he’s giving us a more behind the scenes look at his process with his portrait of Conan O’Brien. If you ask us, Coco never looked better.
President Reagan (1985): “It is, in a way, an odd thing to honor those who died in defense of our country, in defense of us, in wars far away. The imagination plays a trick. We see these soldiers in our mind as old and wise. We see them as something like the Founding Fathers, grave and gray haired. But most of them were boys when they died, and they gave up two lives — the one they were living and the one they would have lived. When they died, they gave up their chance to be husbands and fathers and grandfathers. They gave up their chance to be revered old men. They gave up everything for our country, for us. And all we can do is remember.”
The enemy has changed. It’s no longer simply your business competitor. You’re up against a substantially more scientific reality—our brain’s inability to multi-task.
We may indeed believe we’ve mastered the skill of multi-tasking, but have we really? Are you able to send a text message while you’re in a meeting, while at the same time engage in the conversation and also take in what’s being said? Your instant response is undoubtedly a resounding “Yes,” but in all likelihood the truth is an unfortunate “no.”
Let’s try a simple experiment. It will only take a minute. Begin by visiting MartinLindstrom.com/experiment. Then, when ready, simultaneously read the following clause while listening to my speech. When you’re done, I’ll get you to answer a few simple questions. Let’s go …
An average consumer is exposed to two million TV commercials before reaching the age of 65. That’s equivalent to watching eight hours of TV commercials, seven days a week for six years. If you feel this is excessive, look at Japan. In Japan you’ll discover that the average Japanese consumer watches seven years worth of TV commercials. The interesting fact is that as the number of TV commercial hours increase, so the success rate of new brands falls.
Today we know that eight out of 10 new product releases in the western world fail within the first three months. In Japan, the statistics tell us that nine out of 10 new product releases fail. In Europe, a brand new product will survive on the shelf for 10 weeks, whereas in Japan it will only last two. To further complicate things, the innovation time for a new product in Europe is on average 16 months, but in Japan it’s only three! Let me not forget Korea. There you’ll discover the fastest innovation time in the world—with an average of only 10 weeks.
The speed to market not only reflects a steady increase of technology, it also a sign of the increasing consumer demand for instant gratification. We simply don’t have the patience to wait forever for a new product. We want it now! In the same way, we expect a reply to our emails within 24 hours, and as for our text messages—we want that within minutes!
Your time’s up! Here are the three questions:
How many TV commercials are we exposed to before we reach 65?
What is the average product innovation time in Japan?
My speech mentions an increase in a woman’s heartbeat when she sees a blue box from Tiffany’s. By what percentage?
Before I reveal the answer, let’s revisit the results from an identical experiment we conducted only weeks ago. When people only read the above text without listening to my speech, 92% were able to recall the correct answers. (If we added another question to the written text, the success rate would fall to 84%.) However, when adding the multi-tasking component to the experiment, only 31% were able to answer all three questions correctly—a dramatic drop from 84% to 31%—despite the the fact that all three questions represented the essence of the message.
Now it’s your turn. The answers
How well did you score?
Every study conducted on multi-tasking demonstrates how bad we are at it. Our brain is simply not wired for it—and now matter how hard we try, we’ll lose the game. The reason is actually quite simple. Take for example our reading of the copy above, our brain has to shut down, reset, and start again if we’re to capture the second message happening at the same time. There is no way we can keep two tracks open at once and take in the information from each simultaneously. Furthermore, as we shut down the brain we not only lose data from the first task, but we also lose it from the second. In other words, the combined knowledge we take in whilst multi-tasking is substantially less than if we just focused on one task.
This pains the advertising industry to no end. An average kid takes in 26 hours of content over 24 hours. Despite the ungodly hours kids keep, they’re generally exposed, on average, to at least two information sources at any given time. What this means is that they tend to only remember a fraction of what’s said—“fraction” being the operative word.
Even though recent studies indicate the brains of young children have begun to adapt to this multi-channeling phenomenon, the concept of simple needs to be further simplified by advertisers. The word count in ads must be reduced, the messages minimized, and the language, pictures, music and sounds completely aligned. Marketers should forget the notion of three messages in one ad. Forget about a logo, a pack shot, a web address, and a slogan on the end frame in your TV ads.
Let’s insure your communications remain relevant for the future.
First, does your brand own one word—one truly unique word?
I say “cowboy” and you think “Marlboro.” I say “safety” and you think “Volvo.” How is your brand stacking up? Is it claiming its own territory or is it melting into the generic mass? One where there’s any number of companies laying claim to “quality,” “worldwide,” and “service”—to name just a few.
Second, do your messages consistently communicate and support that single word?
Take for example any Apple ad. Simplicity, design, and innovation are words or values consistently communicated in every aspect of the product, from the packaging to the commercials. Select any aspect of an Apple ad, and I’m sure you’ll agree that at least one of the above words are communicated. Can your product bear similar scrutiny?
Third, let it become a somatic marker!
Some years ago the concept of somatic markers was founded. A somatic marker is essentially a bookmark in our brain. It’s often created by an event so dramatic that you’ll never forget it. Think 9/11, or the death of Princess Diana. Now remember where you were when you first heard about it. No doubt you will also remember who you called or who you were with. By comparison odds are that you’d struggle to remember what you ate for dinner two days ago. That’s the difference between a somatic marker and a non-event.
Great communication establishes powerful somatic markers—it establishes something dramatic enough that makes it memorable. Can you remember the “Will it blend?” BlendTech viral ads which showed a person blending an iPad? How can you forget such a ridiculous notion? Or the one about the Spanish toy chain called Imaginerium, which always features the two doors into their store—a large one (for the adults) and a small one (for the little ones). I bet you’ll never forget the store either once you see it.
What about you? Does your ad have the power to create a somatic marker in the brain?
Did you manage to tick all the boxes? Or even one?
Time’s up. You’ve now spent five minutes reading this article and here’s the good news: You didn’t multi-task at all—well done! Here’s the bad news—you’re probably the only person on Earth concentrating on one message only.
I’m not sure what exactly prompted the recent conversation at the Morgan household, but the kids started whining about how we as parents aren’t fair. I think it may have been the recent gift we gave one of the kids while the others received nothing.
You may think we’re bad parents for treating our kids differently on different occasions, but we think we’re preparing our kids to leave our house and live in the real world. Life is not fair.
Of course, in church world, I see organizations all the time embracing the “fairness doctrine.” You see it most prominently on display when it comes to communications. Every ministry, regardless of priorities, has information linked to the home page of the church’s website. Every ministry, regardless of priorities, has access to announcement time and the bulletin. Every ministry, regardless of priorities, has their own logo and their own platform. We do that to be fair.
When fairness drives your communications strategy, your least important message has the same weight as your most important message. That leaves people wondering what’s most important. When fairness rules, the communications also become very confusing very fast, because every ministry wants a piece of the action. As ministry leaders, we feel like we’re doing the right thing because all our staff and volunteer leaders feel like they’re being treated fairly, but the people who we’re trying to reach or help take their next steps are left confused and overwhelmed by all our competing messages.
And, by embracing fairness, it will generate competition. Since every ministry has access to every medium, smart leaders will eventually raise the volume of their communications and “get louder” and try to outdo their competition. Then the people we’re trying to reach get bombarded by those competing messages. Of course, the “competition” is their own organization.
Businesses would never embrace the fairness doctrine. At Apple as an example, they have hundreds of products that they’re offering at any one time, but today (and every day) only one product will be featured on their home page. We would never do that in the church, because it wouldn’t be fair to the iMacs and the iPads and the iTunes and the nice people in support who are caring for all the people.
The fact is we embrace fairness because it’s easier and not because it’s most effective. We embrace fairness because the people on the inside have a louder voice than the people we’re trying to reach.
Life is not fair. Just because we’ve embraced that as a value in our churches doesn’t mean we need to continue the tradition.
Want to be a high-impact speaker? After training hundreds of presenters, I’ve found several tips that can take your speaking to the next level.
My last post focused on the importance of telling your own remarkable story. Now, here’s how to make your presentation to any audience really shine.
1. Make 1 point. Reduce your message to one sentence. Then deliver on that. Forget everything they told you about three-point sermons. Those of us in the audience aren’t going to digest all that stuff. You are extremely successful if you send us home with one well-presented, memorable point. It might be something like “the hardest to love are those who need our love the most.”
2. Make them laugh, make them cry. Engage a range of emotions in your audience. Delivering data and documentation are good, but ultimately your audience will be moved through their emotions. That’s why Jesus provoked emotion. He sparked wonder with his miracles, fear with the storm on the lake, conviction with the woman caught in adultery, and delight with a coin found in the mouth of a fish.
3. Involve your audience. Let them actually experience the message. If you’re speaking on Jonah, fill the room with the odor of a stinking fish. If you’re speaking on guilt, ask your people to walk across the room with a pebble in their shoe. Then engage them in debriefing the experience, drawing parallels to real life.
4. Understand and honor how people learn. Most speakers and preachers seem to assume their people are all auditory learners. Only a minority of an audience processes communication primarily through their ears. Most are visual learners. So, create presentations that connect through all learning modalities. And mix it up every few minutes. Attention spans, even among adults, last only a few minutes with one mode of communication.
Effective public speaking, the kind that changes lives, is part art, part science.
You can learn more–and experience how to become a truly effective communicator–at a fun, concentrated course offered at Group Publishing’s headquarters in August. Check it out here: http://group.com/regroup
Move People with Your Remarkable Story - Holy Soup | Holy Soup
So, you want to be a speaker who moves people? who changes people? who makes a difference?
I appreciate speakers who move me. And I’ve noticed they exemplify certain characteristics that make them inspiring, memorable, and life-changing.
They’re not merely entertaining, as I explained in my last post. They’re significant.
What makes them so? First, they have a personal, remarkable story to tell. I think of Ron who spends his free time helping families stricken with suicide—because his son took his own life. And Mandy who pursues a singing career, even though she lost her hearing. And Justin who organizes skid row makeovers for homeless moms on Mother’s Day.
Personal stories move me. They’re authentic, meaningful and meaty.
If you wish to move people, deliver personal, remarkable stories. Now, I must qualify, when I say personal, remarkable stories I don’t mean your typical sermon illustrations. You know what I mean: “Last week I saw the neighbor boy pick up a kitten by the tail. Isn’t that just like how God gets our attention?” Save me.
Stories that move people are significant, real and personal. But when you’re expected to speak often, how do you do that? You may have one or two of those great stories from your past. But you probably don’t have 52 remarkable, personal stories per year.
Let me offer a couple of suggestions.
Most preachers spend 20 hours or more per week preparing their sermons. They’re typically holed up in a book-festooned office poring over commentaries, the internet, and other people’s writings. They emerge from solitary confinement at the end of the week with a 30-minute script of thoughts, concepts, Bible readings, kitten illustrations, and stories gleaned from others.
How about this? Suggestion #1. Take half of that prep time and engage in something that can produce your own significant story. If you’re preparing to speak on Matthew 25, go spend a day visiting prisoners. Then on Sunday tell us your jailhouse story. If you’re preparing a talk on God’s free gift of grace, go downtown and try some reverse panhandling. Hand out free dollars and note people’s reactions. Then come and tell us your story. Do something significant, then tell.
Suggestion #2. Though you may run out of personal, remarkable stories, you have a bountiful supply all around you. Let the people whom God has placed around you share their stories on your stage. Lend them the microphone. Live or on video. Recently my pastor handed over his sermon time to the videotaped spiritual journey of a man in our church. It was indelible.
Want to make a difference? Do you want to truly help people grow closer to the Lord? Incorporate powerful, personal, remarkable stories.
In my next post, I’ll offer additional suggestions on how to deliver your message in a way that sticks.